Debate Continues On Rock Island Urban Deer Hunt - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Debate Continues On Rock Island Urban Deer Hunt

Debate Continues On Rock Island Urban Deer Hunt

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Some say more and more deer are being spotted in Rock Island. The debate continues on if hunting them should be an option.

Monday night Rock Island city leaders heard from those opposed to the idea. Those who want the hunt voiced their side to council members on February 13th. "I have no tolerance for cruelty. And I think this bow hunting is extremely cruel," said one resident at the work session on Monday night.

Evie White lives near Black Hawk State Park and says hunters have asked several times for permission to hunt in her backyard. However, she wants the deer to stay. "I have no problem with someone who wants to go out and hunt," said White, "It's unfair for them to think they could hunt in my backyard. I'm not interested."

Safety is one big concern with an inner city bow hunt. "Discharging weapons of any kind, even if a bow hunt, in the city there's always a possibility a human being could get hit," said another resident.

The city is only in the exploration stages, right now getting input from the public. Council members haven't discussed yet just how it could work in Rock Island, or most importantly where it could work with the layout of dense residential areas. "It's going to be difficult," said Mayor Pauley, "That's one of the things we're really going to have to look at. We don't have large open spaces."

A group in favor of the hunt also attended the work session. Many say the deer are intrusive, and damaging to yards. Residents who support the hunt are also worried the population will get worse if nothing is done. "People say they are afraid in their own yard. They can't let their grandchildren play in their own yard," said Sue McDevitt, a member of the group Citizens for Managing the Deer Population in Rock Island.

Some think, before anything moves forward, there should be an aerial survey done to figure out what the deer population is. That may be difficult before spring comes though, as it requires a snow covered ground. "They do travel around and we may actually be over estimating the numbers because we see them in many back yards," said Bob Motz who spoke against a deer hunt.

City leaders say they'll consider comments and information from both sides, then decide what to do. As of now there is no schedule for making a decision.

Urban deer hunts in two of the Iowa Quad Cities appear to be working to thin the population. Davenport started an urban deer hunt in 2008. That year about 300 deer were harvested. This year hunters got close to 200. During the season it's only allowed on public property, primarily at Sunderbruch Park and designated areas along Duck Creek. Bow hunters have to have an elevated stand, deer tags, and complete a safety course.

The same goes for hunters over in Bettendorf, which has an urban hunt season each year since 2003. Since then designated areas have expanded into more neighborhoods within the city but requirements are now generally three acres of land and at least 100 yards away from occupied buildings.

There have been cases which residents call too close for comfort. In 2011 people in the Rambling Court neighborhood in Bettendorf reported a blood trail and deer remains outside of homes. Hunting is allowed in that area, however the hunter violated his permit by leaving deer remains close to a nearby creek.

Beyond hiccups like that, many consider the urban hunt a success. "Deer hunters have told us this year that they're not seeing as many deer, residents have told us they're not seeing as many deer. The numbers, we harvested 43 this year, that's the lowest we've harvested since we've started," said Bettendorf Police Chief Phil Redington.

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